Robert Murray M’Cheyne and salvation: the dagger in my soul

In talking about salvation, there is a danger in eclipsing the simplicity of salvation by laying too much emphasis on the salvation “process.”

In “Reformed” theology (of the Protestant Reformation), which the Reformers obviously considered to be true biblical theology, salvation is regarded as a sovereign divine act of grace that begins with regeneration, which enables us to believe and thus to repent. Regeneration, faith and repentance can be subsumed under the term “justification,” where Christ transfers his righteousness to the believer. Then starts the life-long process of sanctification where the believer works out his salvation with the realisation that it is Christ working in him that enables him to persevere. At the end of the salvation process – physical death – comes glorification. Christ becomes my portion forever.

With regard to glorification, we are meant to experience (feel) the presence of Christ/God here and now. After all, we are seated – now at this very moment- in heavenly places with Jesus (Ephesians 1:1-3). Yet at the same time we are caught in this corrupted body, struggling, sinning, and (if we are born again) groaning for our glorification, which is nothing more than the redemption of our bodies. After all, our souls have already been glorified, because we already are partakers of the heavenly riches, as are the angels. Unlike angels, alas, we’re not at all as happy as they – thanks to this body of death.

Now, what is the danger in this “salvation as a process?” Here is Robert Murray M’Cheyne, from his poignant biography.

“Referring to Song 6:3, “My beloved is mine,” following “My beloved is gone down into his garden,” he said, “This is the faith of assurance,—a complete, unhesitating embracing of Christ as my righteousness and my strength and my all. A common mistake is, that this clear conviction that Christ is mine is an attainment far on in the divine life, and that it springs from evidences seen in my heart. When I see myself a new creature, Christ on the throne in my heart, love to the brethren, etc., it is often thought that I may begin then to say, ‘My Beloved is mine.’ How different this passage! The moment Jesus comes down into the garden to the beds of spices,—the moment He reveals himself, the soul cries out, ‘My Beloved is mine!’ So saith Thomas, John 20:27, 28. The moment Jesus came in and revealed his wounds, Thomas cried out, ‘My Lord and my God.’ He did not look to see if he was believing, or if the graces of love and humility were reigning; but all he saw and thought of was Jesus and Him crucified and risen.”

The New Testament uses various tenses of salvation for those who believe: are saved, being saved, been saved and will be saved. The crucial point is that those who are being saved, have been saved, will be saved ARE saved as far “back” as eternity:

John 6
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Alas, relatively few today believe in this eternal security. How can they believe that they will never lose (give up) their salvation if they believe in the sacrosanctity of their free will to make the final decision. Today they trade in their sin (ashes) for Christ (Beauty); tomorrow they might used their precious free will that sealed the former transaction to trade Christ for apostasy.

Why is M’Cheyne so poignant (like a “dagger”; poignard in French)? because he stabs at the very heart not only of the matter but of the soul. (An electronic copy of his biography by one of Scotland’s greats, Andrew Bonar, can be found at Project Gutenberg).

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Robert Murray M’Cheyne and salvation: the dagger in my soul

  1. “we are seated – now at this very moment- in heavenly places with Jesus(Ephesians 1:1-3).”

    That is a big stretch, Bog. You are reading your agenda into Scriptures. We get the blessings of the heavenly (BTW, places is in italics, means it was added), we don’t sit there. See 1:20.

    • Here is Eph 1:3

      3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

      The verse is clear. here is the verse in the immediate context.
      Ephesians 1:1-9
      1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
      2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
      3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
      7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

      And 1:16-20

      Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

      Where’s the “stretch.”

      The point is “that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (v. 18).

      Most Christians are like the poet who didn’t know-it.

      The Christian life on earth is learning who you ARE in Christ. (if you like, the life of a follower of Yeshua is about learning who he is in Mashiach).

  2. Today the Catholic Church goers are signed by dust in the shape of a cross. In church they say that there is joy and suffering intertwines in this event (as in everything due to our imperfect humanity there is never a complete absolute moment of perfect purity of any kind). There is never an extreme contempt and call of individual reproach in what I hear in my Catholic teaching. If the Living God I believe in is bound to his Second Covenant. He is letting His church decide what is right to be bounded or unbound on this earth and I strongly believe so since God truly made us in his image and this means able to decide for ourselves our faith of salvation on this earth after He left his disciples to guard His inheritance. I think the Roman Catholic Church is deciding to open the gate of Heaven to anybody who is willing to be saved by God. God cannot force anybody to be brought to Him for obvious reason inherent to his desire to make us closer to him as possible . He decided to become dust to let Himself be even closer to our being ‘dust’. His universe if full of dust and He transcended the condemnation given to Adam and Eve in the Old Covenant of turning them to dust giving us a second chance of not be turned to dust anymore through Him. If the Roman Catholic Church decides to open and unbound many restrictions due to eternal salvation and she is willing to let people who want to be with God to be drawn to him in any possible way they are able to do…then let the New Covenant rule…It was a very very difficult historical process for the Catholic Church to reach this point and she didn’t do it without a continuous presence of God among her best pupils (as humble as Saint Teresa of baby Jesus). Then let it be as a work of the Holy Spirit who is present today as always here and everywhere He wishes to be in our moment in History. If I were God I would be happy to think that my church was being less unforgiving. When Jesus was on earth few of his own kind followed him. And He had dear to his heart to speak about the ‘chosen ones’ who would believe in him while still here on earth. After that time history has been transformed through his coming. Then let His Church accept this new reality and do not close any possible chance for salvation to anyone only because His Church decided not to be open to forgiveness and salvation. Complexity is at the heart of Christianity and Catholicism and whatever is possible to be complex let it be complex. Simplification is often embraced by evil.

    • Dan, “may know” in the sense of an English subjunctive, For example, “I’m not giving you your cigar that you may realise (now) that you talk twaddle.”

      Granted that we are not in heaven yet. What is true is that a “believer” occupies two worlds, where there is continual struggle. What Eph 1 is emphasising is that believer needs to realise that s/he has already inherited ALL blessings – and therefore is much much more than a poor pathetic old sinner saved by grace.

      Ok then if not a whole cigar, a wee puff then?

  3. Which bible do you use and how many books are included or excluded? And do you think that Jesus came exclusively to write the Gospel as a book (that he didn’t write even thought he would have been able to, considering that He was able to discuss the Scriptures in the temple and the rest of the people of his time didn’t even know how to write or read Hebrew) or to establish His Church of salvation on earth?

    • Maria
      Jesus did not come exclusively to write Gospel, nor did he come in any fashion to write the Gospel – or anything. Jesus came to establish a family of believers, which he brought and will bring under his rulership (Kingdom). He also appointed called out ones (ecclesia) to represent his authority on earth. You say those representatives are the Roman Catholic Church. I say, no. As you know if you ask me to give reasons why I say no, we will be talking about that forever, and without any resolution (unless God intervenes).

  4. Dear Raphael,
    It is nice to see that you are not going to get blinded in the near future by reading too closely the Scripture ….Your statement is quite revealing about your still being in good health….the Church of Christ is the most important aspect of all…even if we don’t agree which one could be qualified as the first Church of Christ and therefore the closer to the intrinsic message of the Scripture.

    I asked you if you exclude from your reading anything in the bible. When I speak about being a ‘fan’ of complexity I am also referring to a comprehensive reading, among other things. I asked you if you excluded any book from your bible because there are passages in some books concerning the importance of prayers to mitigate the punishment of the souls…it is part of a broader view of salvation the possibilities of perorate for the possibility of salvations of souls.

    I have found Catholic prayers for the unborn aborted children’ souls, and I think they are recent. I was surprised by it and I like it…This is part of my accepting the complexity and appreciate it. Complexity doesn’t mean that we are disregarding simplicity that is highly valuable. I am referring usually to the complexity and simplicity of a drop of water.

    • Maria,

      – “It is nice to see that you are not going to get blinded in the near future by reading too closely the Scripture.

      Comment: I suppose you mean using scripture to defend the infallibility of Peter and his successors. Oh well, if you want us to deal with this massive issue here, I must out of courtesy accede. I await your move on this issue.

      – “Your statement is quite revealing about your still being in good health.”

      Comment: I don’t understand the “good health” bit. Do you mean that I think that I am spiritually healthy enough not to require a close reading of scripture?

      – “the Church of Christ is the most important aspect of all…even if we don’t agree which one could be qualified as the first Church of Christ and therefore the closer to the intrinsic message of the Scripture.”

      Comment: By the “church of Christ” I understand a “body with Christ as the Head and believers as its members,” and that indeed is a very important concept, but not the most important. The most important is “sola Dei Gloria.”

      – “I asked you if you exclude from your reading anything in the bible. When I speak about being a ‘fan’ of complexity I am also referring to a comprehensive reading, among other things. I asked you if you excluded any book from your bible because there are passages in some books concerning the importance of prayers to mitigate the punishment of the souls…it is part of a broader view of salvation, the possibilities of salvations of souls.”

      Comment: the formation of the Canon is a gargantuan subject. For a Roman Catholic, though it could be very simple. The Pope (the Church) said it and that’s it.

      – “I have found Catholic prayers for the unborn aborted children’ souls, and I think they are recent. I was surprised by it and I like it…This is part of my accepting the complexity and appreciate it. Complexity doesn’t mean that we are disregarding simplicity that is highly valuable. I am referring usually to the complexity and simplicity of a drop of water.”

      Comment: I also like the idea that my prayers could have an effect on the dead. I also like the idea that I have not sinned in Adam. But, as you point out, what does the scripture say about these “complex” topics? Which brings us back to the question of what is the Canon.

      Complexity is good. Without it, any rock bigger than you would be of more value.

      • You say: “Comment: By the “church of Christ” I understand a “body with Christ as the Head and believers as its members,” and that indeed is a very important concept, but not the most important. The most important is “sola Dei Gloria.” I agree. There is no discussion about this. I was only thinking about what we were discussing. The “Sola Dei Gloria” is set without discussion and therefore outside of any scale of importance.

        You say:“Comment: I don’t understand the “good health” bit. Do you mean that I think that I am spiritually healthy enough not to require a close reading of scripture?” I was using my usual bit of irony difficult to be conveyed. You are healthy enough to say that the Church of Christ is the inheritance. And I am sorry when you say that you are tired.

        You say “Comment: the formation of the Canon is a gargantuan subject. For a Roman Catholic, though it could be very simple. The Pope (the Church) said it and that’s it.” I was only thinking about the part of the Scripture that Luther considered not to include and that allows prayers for the death. He justified the exclusion because he decided it safer to follow the Jewish medieval canon of inclusion and exclusion at a certain point. If I were to take a closer reading of the Scripture I would rely on the wider spectrum of the Canon, but of course I do not take a closer reading of the Scripture since as you say I rely on the “Pope said it and that’s it.” But strange to say, in doing so I follow the most comprehensive canon in existence.

        You say:”Comment: I also like the idea that my prayers could have an effect on the dead. I also like the idea that I have not sinned in Adam. But, as you point out, what does the scripture say about these “complex” topics? Which brings us back to the question of what is the Canon’ This is what you say and this is what others say:
        “Finally, when reflecting theologically on the salvation of infants who die without baptism, the church respects the hierarchy of truths and therefore begins by clearly reaffirming the primacy of Christ and his grace, which has priority over Adam and sin. Jesus Christ, in his existence for us and in the redemptive power of his sacrifice, died and rose again for all. By his whole life and teaching, he revealed the fatherhood of God and his universal love. (…)
        Damnation, however, is deserved, because it is the consequence of free human choice. The infant who dies with baptism is saved by the grace of Christ and through the intercession of the church even without his or her cooperation. It can be asked whether the infant who dies without baptism but for whom the church in its prayer expresses the desire for salvation can be deprived of the vision of God even without his or her cooperation.” http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7529
        The Catholic Church again meets my deepest human desires and this is why I know I am in the Church of Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s